As the digital revolution continues to sweep across the automotive landscape, the need to streamline auto sales processes is becoming essential. Lengthy procedures and tedious paperwork are out. Tech-savvy, time-conscious customer service is in. Here are the top ways to streamline auto sales – and stay competitive – in the digital age.
Understand the New Customer Journey
The digital age has ushered in a new era of consumer behavior, one in which customer empowerment is center stage. Today’s customers are digitally connected and well-informed. They expect a seamless transition between online and offline experiences. This means successful automotive sales hinge on a dealership’s ability to navigate the intricacies of online presence.
Essentially, the automotive industry’s arena has evolved from on-lot to hybrid or, in some cases, fully online. The result is a digital-first approach to sales, and it calls for a fundamental restructuring of the buyer-seller dynamic. Acknowledging and responding to this shift with technologically streamlined auto sales processes that are attuned to today’s consumer behaviors will ensure a dealership’s continued success.
Implement New Technology
In an age of tech-enhanced automotive sales processes, the integration of strategic technology is key to competitive auto sales, and can help bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds. When implemented right, a number of technologies contribute to enhancing the automotive customer experience, including:
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software that helps transform customer interactions into actionable insights, allowing for personalized service.
- Online appointment scheduling that enables customers to schedule appointments at their convenience, ensuring customer-centric service.
- Electronic document management systems that allow dealerships to move away from time-consuming, paper-based processes.
- Virtual showrooms that offer an immersive and interactive online experience – including inspections and simulated test drives – enabling customers to conveniently explore vehicles at their own pace, from any location, at any hour.
- Business development centers (BDCs) that serve as the back office of a dealership’s sales or service departments and nurture leads across all stages of the sales funnel, from initial inquiry to post-sale engagement.
BDCs for Sales
Dealerships looking to position themselves at the forefront of tech-enhanced automotive sales while optimizing their customer service should consider implementing a business development center (BDC). BDCs can interface with most of the above-mentioned technologies, offering a holistic approach to streamlining auto sales.
Auto BDCs facilitate a proactive, personalized approach to client discovery, placing the needs, preferences, and expectations of the customer front and center. Whether in-house or outsourced, BDCs are staffed by knowledgeable agents that respond to customers in real-time. At the end of the day, BDCs take on much of the legwork, freeing up the sales team to focus on the showroom.
BDCs for sales foster client satisfaction and retention, and can be leveraged to:
- Sort, prioritize, and assign leads
- Track sales trends, demographics, and more
- Facilitate internal dealership communication
- Manage consistent customer communication
- Implement customer loyalty programs
Respond to Leads 24/7
As dealerships continue to streamline auto sales and adapt their customer engagement strategies, one component is increasingly indispensable – 24/7 responsiveness to customer inquiries.
Today’s consumers expect instant gratification, and car shopping is no exception. If a dealer doesn’t keep up, a customer will move on to the next one with a mere click of the mouse. Whether it’s the middle of the night or peak business hours, a 24/7 lead response strategy is vital to ensure that no customer is left hanging.
Intelligent tools such as automated systems and chatbots play a key role in unlocking how to convert leads into customers. They serve as virtual assistants, responding around-the-clock to queries while taking into account the diverse time zones and digital habits of consumers.
But intelligent tools have their limits and, where automated systems fall short, BDCs take 24/7 lead response to the next level, contributing human expertise to authentically manage customer interactions. Auto BDCs ensure that leads are swiftly captured and consistently nurtured, streamlining customer interaction and signaling a dealership’s commitment to responsiveness and reliability.
Keep Your Customers Engaged
In the quest to keep customers engaged, dealerships need to steer clear of generic promotional content and develop personalized communication strategies that capture a customer’s attention. By leveraging an auto BDC to harness customer data and preferences, dealerships can better understand the intricacies of automotive consumer behavior. They can tailor their interactions and deliver content and service that aligns with the unique needs of each customer and keeps them sustainably engaged.
Social media platforms and online reviews – today’s digital word-of-mouth – are another great way to engage with customers. These platforms offer a convenient space for customers to express opinions, seek recommendations, and engage directly with automotive brands. A good social media strategy can boost your brand awareness and help drive both new leads and referrals.
Perfect Your Lead Conversion
Lead conversion is an art in the digital age, and encouraging a potential customer to visit a dealership is a critical step in the auto sales process. It’s not about delivering a scripted pitch, but rather having a genuine conversation that speaks to a customer’s preferences and clearly conveys the value of visiting the showroom.
Dealerships can gather data insights that pinpoint the needs and preferences of a potential customer and help generate tailored incentives to make a visit. For example, promotions, special offers, test drives, and tickets to dealership events exclusively available to showroom visitors are great ways to bring in potential customers.
Streamlining online appointment scheduling is another way to encourage conversion. Offering a user-friendly means for customers to visit a dealership at their convenience showcases a commitment to efficiency and customer service. Ultimately, it builds trust, increasing the chances of converting a lead into a committed showroom appointment.
Don’t Forget to Follow Up
Dealership training often focuses on how to close a sale, but remember that the journey doesn’t end there. Customer re-engagement can lay the groundwork for enduring relationships with loyal advocates that champion the brand’s value, authenticity, and commitment, and keep coming back for more. BDCs can be leveraged to effectively promote customer re-engagement strategies including:
- Personalized communication based on a customer’s preferences and purchase history.
- Regular follow-ups that ensure a customer is satisfied with their purchase, and encourage them to share their experiences.
- Loyalty programs that reward customers for referrals and purchases, and make them feel appreciated.
- Exclusive offers and promotions that incentivize repeat business.
- Social media engagement that shares relevant content and enables customers to connect with each other and with your brand.
- Vehicle upgrade programs that allow customers to upgrade or trade in their vehicles, keeping them within your ecosystem.
Streamline Auto Sales with Better Car People
A successful final sale is the outcome of a streamlined process that involves organized workflows, technological integration, efficient documentation, and well-informed, attuned BDC and sales teams.
By streamlining auto sales processes and embracing technology, dealerships can optimize their automotive sales and keep customers engaged – from initial inquiry to post-sale. Once the deal is sealed, customers will appreciate having undergone a straightforward, transparent, and smooth car-buying process.
Better Car People helps dealerships accomplish just this. We deliver BDC solutions that integrate with CRMs and automated systems, and offer countless unique templates designed to facilitate authentic communication and keep your customers committed.
Interested in learning more about how to streamline auto sales? Book a meeting with Better Car People today for a free consultation.